For those struggling with or recovering from an addiction, socialising can seem incredibly difficult. Now that lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, anyone recovering from an addiction may be worried about starting to socialise again and wondering how they can enjoy time with family and friends whilst staying sober or abstaining from addictive behaviour such as gambling.
Many people recovering from addictions are concerned that they can no longer enjoy going out to parties or spending time with friends, leading to feelings of isolation and depression. Thankfully, recovery doesn’t have to be lonely or boring.
The reality of sober socialising is actually a lot better than you might expect. Without the substances there are no more hangovers, blackouts or difficult comedowns. In fact, many recovering addicts have commented on the fact that they now enjoy life so much more after getting sober and, whilst this can seem hard to believe if you’re at the first stages of your recovery, experiencing it for yourself after so many years of substance abuse can be eye opening.
Plenty of people who have never drunk excessively or taken drugs still have plenty of fun in life and you can too. In early recovery, you may spend large amounts of time in therapy or in support groups, however, after some time you will likely become involved in other activities where you will learn that there are many fun and exciting things in live that don’t involve alcohol or drugs such as going to the cinema, playing sports and getting good at a new hobby such as painting.
Sports such as football, running, basketball and swimming can be thoroughly enjoyable and produce feel-good hormones called endorphins which help to reduce stress. Hobbies such as playing an instrument, photography and reading are also activities you may start to enjoy now that you are sober. They can also help to keep you busy and occupied if you ever start to get strong cravings.
How to Enjoy Parties When Sober
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges a recovering addict can face is attending functions where alcohol and drugs are used frequently or seen as the norm, such as at parties or clubs. If you are in early recovery, it may be advisable to avoid these types of places if you know you are likely to relapse if you attend. In order to still see friends, you could make alternative arrangements such as a barbeque in the garden or a game night at home that doesn’t include drinks or drugs but still features that social aspect.
Over time, you will find that abstaining from alcohol and drugs gets easier and you may find yourself feeling more comfortable with the idea of attending social events away from home. If you do decide to attend an event where alcohol or drugs are present, make sure to spend plenty of time preparing beforehand. Ensure the hosts know not to serve you alcohol, or let the barman know to serve you non-alcoholic drinks all evening.
How to Socialise with a Gambling Addiction
For those in recovery from a gambling addiction, socialising can seem like time full of temptations that increase the risk of a relapse. Thankfully there are ways in which you can still meet with family and friends without threatening your recovery.
Consider the Location
Whilst it seems obvious not to attend a casino, there can be triggers all around. If your friends invite you out for a few drinks but you know your local pub has slot machines or you think there will be lots of people placing bets on the big sport event at the weekend, it is wise to think of a more suitable location for your meet-up.
Similarly, if you know you’re more likely to gamble when you drink alcohol, making plans that don’t involve alcohol are a must. Going for a meal, playing a sport, or even just going for a walk are some ideas of ways to socialise without putting your recovery at risk.
Inform Your Friends
If your friends aren’t aware of your gambling addiction, they likely won’t think twice about inviting you out to the casino or encouraging you to have a few drinks at the pub. Whilst it can seem daunting to tell people about your addiction, by letting your close friends know about what you have been experiencing, they can better understand the situation and help to make more suitable plans accordingly as well as spotting when you may be getting tempted to gamble and preventing a relapse.
Keep Things Short and Sweet
If you’re worried about going out and socialising again after such a long period of lockdown on top ofs managing your recovery, it might be better to keep plans short to begin with and increase the amount of time you spend socialising as you get more comfortable. Similarly, keeping plans simple, such as going on a walk with one or two friends, can sometimes feel much less daunting than going on a night out with your entire friendship group.
Know Your Triggers and How to Cope with Them
If you do end up in a situation where there are triggers or where you worry you may relapse, recognise them and remember the methods you were taught in rehab to try to overcome them. This includes everything you learnt in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and the 12 Steps.
Leave If It’s Getting Too Much
If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with your surroundings or the pressure to be social and feel yourself becoming temper to gamble, it is better to head home early than to threaten your months of hard work and recovery.
Get Professional Support
If you’re worried about starting to socialise again, speak with your recovery practitioner. They will be able to help you make better decisions when it comes to meeting friends and family, working with your individual tiggers and needs. At Acquiesce, we’re always here to support you and help maintain your recovery, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you’re struggling.